Unlike many people who choose to move to New York- come hell or high water-I am amongst those whom New York hand-plucked to live here. I never hesitate to answer “New York” when asked where I’m from. True, I’m technically from Ecuador because that’s where I was born and that’s where my roots are (as far as I can trace them). But really, it doesn’t feel that way. Aside from the handful of times when I temporarily resided in other countries, New York has been my home ever since I was 8. And like a kid who grew up near the woods and knows every tree and path, I know just about all the streets, nooks and shortcuts of the city. When I walk down the street, I don’t just see buildings, but rather, I see the brick-and-mortar of my memories. This whole city feels like one giant scrapbook to me.
When all is said and done, I didn’t pick New York. It picked me. I was too young to know any better, too absorbed in the absolute freedom I experienced as a child to even know what or where New York was.
On the day I left Ecuador for New York, I wasn’t dazed when I was put on an airplane to fly by myself, nor when I landed in a completely different place hours later. Thing is, I was primed from a young age to be a fierce, fearless frequent traveler. My mother, who before leaving for the states had worked at the airport in Quito, used all her connections to put me on flights to other Ecuadorian cities where we had friends or family. I have this one vivid memory from one of these solo-trips, when I got to fly in the cockpit beside the pilots. I remember more buttons and switches than I could count, and the endless, endless perfect blue sky.
Overall, New York’s been good to me. It’s opened many doors. Been the gateway to many adventures. Led me to incredible people and crazy unbelievable experiences. I especially have New York to thank for my street-smarts. I honestly didn’t know New York City was a “thing” until I began traveling in my 20s, when I started seeing it from the eyes of others. When asked where I was from, the answer would immediately inspire respect from those who asked. Something about being from New York gave me the confidence, the balls, the “dont mess with me” attitude to carry on alone. To go after everything I wanted.
On the flip side, New York’s also been somewhat of a nightmare. I’m not a big fan of crowds, and New York = too many people all the time. And maybe it’s just me but lately it seems even more crowded. Every time I get home, I gotta just gotta sage myself. Take a minute to breathe. And then shower. I’m highly sensitive to energy, and being in proximity to so many people puts me on the edge. Being pregnant has only altered this: my mind begins to race, I get super anxious, and my worst side comes out. Mostly, I notice I curse all the time in my head.
Gems such as: F’ this and f’ that. “What an asshole what the f?” and “Omg are you kidding me? More motherf’in snow?” I catch myself telepathically telling off complete strangers. I try to put as much distance between myself and others. It drives me crazy when I can’t (mostly, in crowded buses or trains). I put up thick walls and armor when I walk down the street. My patience dwindles to nonexistent. I’m repulsed by the garbage and the dirty subway stations, the mass consumption and the mindless tourism industry and all the trails it leaves behind. I don’t get the obsession with shopping, whether it’s down the posh overpriced stores that line 5th ave, or at the knockoff stands that overpopulate the streets of Chinatown. Halal food stands have become my number one enemy ever since becoming pregnant, and so have smokers. Good luck taking a deep breath of clean air. New York’s a crazy maze to navigate, and frankly, I’m just not up to it anymore.
Sigh. There’s many ways New York redeems itself for the things I just listed. I fuckin’ love this city and always will. It’s like that family member that drives you insane but you will always love no matter what. But there’s something inside of me that’s beckoning me elsewhere.
I’ve been eyeing other places to live these last couple of years. It would of course mean starting from scratch. As much as I love to roast New York, there’s a sense of comfort knowing that for better or worse, I know this place. But as my belly grows, and my due date becomes more and more of a reality, this whole moving process has suddenly climbed to the top of my priority list. Staying is not an option, because I know what that would cost us: my guy having to work all the time overtime just to pay an expensive rent, heavily minimizing the time we spend together as a family.
There’s gotta be a way to maximize our time together, collectively do work that inspires us, live cozily, in addition to have the means to continue to travel and live healthy lives, without having to slave away.
And so, a prayer, a little bit of magic:
Thank you thank you for bringing me to New York all those years ago. I know I’m incredibly blessed for having spent so much time in this amazing, crazy, beautiful city. I’m grateful for everything this city has offered, everything it’s taught me, everything it’s given me access to. Thank you.
I know that New York will always be in my life. And it is with deep gratitude that I now ask to be guided to a place where my spirit, creativity, body and life will flourish. Where clean air and water are abundant, as is access to wonderful local and organic farms. A place where there are other young people like myself and my partner, who value community, spirituality, conscious parenting and sustainable living.
Please guide us to the perfect home, the perfect nest. An open space full of natural light, a wood stove, plenty of outdoor space for a garden, a gorgeous large kitchen, wooden floors, a bathtub. A place that will feel so right and sacred when we’re there. A place that we will fill with music, food, and our favorite people.
And please, open up the passageways for resources and income that will allow us to afford this home, plentiful good food, and lots of time to spend together and travel. May this move put us closer to living a life where we do what we love, are of perfect service to our communities, and thrive in health and love.